The Tennessee Pharmacists Association (TPA) received the following information with regard to a pilot program reported in the media. TPA is providing this information to clarify current Tennessee law and regulations regarding the dispensing of Naloxone in Tennessee.
On September 23, 2015, CVS/pharmacy disseminated a press release announcing that it is expanding the availability of Naloxone, providing the opioid overdose reversal drug without a prescription in 12 additional states. Previously, Naloxone was available at CVS/pharmacy without a prescription in Rhode Island and Massachusetts. However, the company is now also selling the drug without a prescription in Arkansas, California, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah and Wisconsin. Noting the high death toll every year from accidental drug overdoses, Tom Davis, vice president of Pharmacy Professional Practices at CVS/pharmacy, said: “Naloxone is a safe and effective antidote to opioid overdoses, and by providing access to this medication in our pharmacies without a prescription in more states, we can help save lives.” He added that while all CVS/pharmacy stores in the United States “can continue to order and dispense Naloxone when a prescription is presented, we support expanding Naloxone availability without a prescription and are reviewing opportunities to do so in other states.” CVS Health is also participating in a research effort with Boston Medical Center and Rhode Island Hospital to support a demonstration project of pharmacy-based naloxone rescue kits, and CVS/pharmacy will continue with its Medication Disposal for Safer Communities Program, in which it is working with the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids to donate drug collection units to police departments nationwide.
Although not specifically stated in the press release, CVS/pharmacy reports that they have obtained a (standing) prescription order from a local physician in order to provide these services.
Per the Tennessee Board of Pharmacy, in order to dispense Naloxone in Tennessee at this time, the pharmacist would either have to obtain a prescription order or medical order for the medication, or enter into a signed collaborative pharmacy practice agreement with prescriber(s) authorizing the pharmacist(s) to generate prescriptions for Naloxone. The Tennessee Board of Pharmacy fully endorses and encourages pharmacists and prescribers to facilitate the proper dispensing of Naloxone to those in need or at risk, and it is the goal of the Board to have a statewide Naloxone program that would increase patient access to opioid antagonists for those at risk for opioid overdose. However, all pharmacies must comply with these state laws and regulations in order to dispense Naloxone to patients. At this time, Naloxone is considered a legend drug in Tennessee, which requires a prescription in order to be dispensed, and all pharmacies must comply with these applicable prescription requirements.
Thanks to Dr. Reginald Dilliard, the Tennessee Board of Pharmacy, and the Tennessee Department of Health for this clarification.